MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — With a vocal crowd cheering her on, Ronda Rousey had some fighting words for Holly Holm less than two months before their UFC bantamweight title bout in Melbourne on Nov. 15.
At a hype-filled promotional event filled with more MMA fans than media, Rousey, when asked if she had seen much of Australia’s second-largest city, replied: “I wish I had a chance do some more touristy things. After I beat Holly I will have some time.”
Rousey (12-0) will make her seventh title defense against Holm (9-0), the boxing champion from New Mexico, in the headlining bout at Etihad Stadium.
Rousey has become one of the most prominent U.S. female athletes while winning her last three bouts in a combined 64 seconds. In her last so-called fight, she stopped Bethe Correia in 34 seconds on Aug. 1.
Holm underscored Rousey’s form, saying on Wednesday that against Rousey she would take it “one second at a time.”
“Mentally, a lot of things that I’ve gone through fighting against some of the best in the world in boxing, has given me that confidence that I’m going to be able to deal with coming in as an underdog,” Holm said.
Rousey was scheduled to defend her bantamweight title against Holm on Jan. 2 in Las Vegas, but a thumb injury to welterweight champion Robbie Lawler changed the UFC’s schedule.
Lawler was slated to defend his title against Carlos Condit in the main event at UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium, which will seat more than 55,000. Due to the time difference, the live pay-per-view event will be broadcast in the United States on Nov. 14.
“What makes Holly such an intriguing challenger for me is that I’ve been watching her since the day she started in the ring,” Rousey said. “I have known that our paths were going to cross at some point. I know that if there’s a 19-time boxing world champion coming into my sport, I have my eye on her.
“She’s been really impressive with how she’s adapted to MMA from pure boxing to head-kick knockouts. I know she’s the type of fighter that I want to test myself against. I still have more to prove, and Holly is one more person that I’m going to prove myself against.”
Rousey criticized the suspension of fellow UFC competitor Nick Diaz for marijuana use. This week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned the welterweight fighter for five years because of a third marijuana-related offense.
“It’s so not right for him to be suspended (for) five years for marijuana,” Rousey said. “I’m against them even testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug … it’s only tested for political reasons.”
The Melbourne card will be the first to feature women headlining the program.
“In the history of combat sports, this has never been done,” UFC president Dana White said at the news conference.
The UFC193 main card will also feature a straw-weight title bout between Poland’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Canadian Valerie Letourneau.